Division of Infection and Immunity


UCL study shows etoposide inhibits HIV-1 infection in macrophages

31 October 2017

The UCL led study, which is in press in EMBO Journal, included researchers from the Francis Crick Institute.

By Unknown photographer/artist, National Cancer Institute [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A research-team, led by Professor Ravi Gupta and Dr Petra Mlcochova, recently showed that Etoposide, an anti-cancer chemotherapy drug used to treat multiple cancers, inhibits HIV-1 infection in macrophages - the primary reservoir for HIV in the brain.

The investigators found that etoposide activated SAMHD1, an antiviral protein, and surprisingly appeared to prevent HIV-1 DNA nuclear import and integration, thus completely inhibiting HIV-1 infection of macrophages.

Thus far, SAMHD1 antiviral function was thought to involve blockade of reverse transcription. This presents a new mechanism by which the HIV-1 reservoir may be limited by chemotherapeutic drugs. Such insights might assist in design of novel therapeutic interventions, particularly for persistent central nervous system reservoirs that primarily involve macrophages or related myeloid lineage cells.